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Tent Reviews: The North Face Tadpole 23

Tent and Awning Reviews Index  >  The North Face  >  Tadpole 23 Reviews

Current Model?
RRP on date added:
Bedroom inners:
Living area groundsheet:
Pitching Style:
2  (more 2 berth tents)
2.37 KG

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Average User Rating:
8.78/10 from 9 reviews

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9 Reviews of the Tadpole 23

By: Banthevan  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2006   Rating: 

I got this for a month long cycle trip down the Pacific Coast in the US from the Bronx, of all places, for a fraction of the price it usually goes for. I read up and needed a decent tent that would survive the trip and more.

It's handled everything thrown at it. It's so quick & easy to put up, dry off & take down. Easily movable when erected, even with the footprint (recommended) on. I did this in a motel room once when the weather was incredibly wet to dry it off (and everything else!). The mesh inner is great used on its own when the weather is good.

The gear loft accessory doesn't appear much but it can be really handy, especially when there's not much spare floor space when you're inside with all your clobber.

It packs down really small and easily fitted into the Karrimor Iberian rear panniers, even without splitting the contents between panniers.

It's still like new and steered me to go with the same company when getting a new tent last year.
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By: Speedtrip  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2002   Rating: 

I bought this tent about 10 years ago my motorbike camping trips and the like, took it with me backpacking in 2003, used in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. Great tent.

Only leaked the once, in New Zealand, where I camped just above the beach and the locals were taking bets on if I would survive the 12 hour storm. That may have been bad positioning tho as a I wanted a seaview lol :)

I still have the tent, I used it when I went away with my g/f a few times, and it was cosy but doable.

I have kids and family and just got it out for a hiking trip im planning, but need a new front pole as I broke it when drunk last time I used it

Has some great memories this tent
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By: Dmsplat  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2004   Rating: 

A lightweight backpacking tent. Used in howling gales and driving rain on exposed coastal site and it felt completely solid and no water came through the fly or the groundsheet.

True - there isn't much space, but it is aimed at backpackers and there's ample room for two to sleep (OK - it's quite cosy) and the porch is fine for a couple of backpacks.

It is very easy to put up (mine is inner first).

Mine has been well used and seems as good as new.
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By: Chrismartinuk  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2010   Rating: 

I ordered this tent a couple of weeks ago, Paid 145 for it which is good and after first put up, it is quite an extraordinary piece of kit!

The poles are brilliant, (never had an ally pole tent before)and was a really easy thing to put up. I imagine that it was designed to be put up in the dark high on a mountainside with no fuss! I really like the way that the pole ends stay in the straps which has always been the bane of my camping life when trying to get a tent up quickly in windy conditions.

However, I am 6'5 and North Face's claim that this is a 2 man tent is hilarious! Even oompa lumpas wouldn't want to share! For a decent sleeping bag, this is just long enough for me! I did buy it as a 1 man tent in mind, as I usually take a fair bit of kit with me and at least with the extra room to the sides, and the generous vestibule this will make a good expedition tent! Am taking this up to Snowdon in Feb for a proper run out, and then the alps in September.

Really impressed with the rainproofing too, nice design touches such as the way that the flysheet never touches the inner tent, and the ventilation seems to be good too.
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By: TIMER  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2005   Rating: 

I`ve just used my Tadpole 23 in the Lake District. I arrived at the campsite in a force 7 gale and heavy rain: although setting it up in these conditions was testing I got it up very quickly, and with its back end to the wind it was dead stable. Other tents could be seen suffering severe stress; they were buckling in all directions ! I was warm and dry for the few days I was there - an A1 tent. It didn`t leak either !
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By: Stash29  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2010   Rating: 

This really is a pretty decent tent and has a lot going for it but is not without its faults.


- The version I have doesn't have the all mesh inner (only a mesh door) so it will probably be a bit warmer than some of the other tadpole models.

- The semi geodesic design will be very sturdy against wind although I've yet to test it in strong winds.

- There's tonnes of pockets and loops on the inside to store/hang stuff from.

- It's very spacious if just using for one person (which I will be, or maybe me and a dog).

- Very easy and quick to pitch.

- It packs down very small. I use a XS Pod Sac Ultralight Drysac for the inner and one for the Fly (also use an XXS Pod Sac for the footprint).

- There is space to cook/boil water in porch if needed and you can open the door from the top to let steam out.

- It is very well made.


- When its raining and the door is open you can get the inner wet depending on the direction of the rain. You can close the door and open it again from the top to peek out but it would be better if you could have the door open when it's raining though you probably wouldn't want the porch getting wet anway.

- It's not the most waterproof of tents. The fly has a HH of 1500 and the groundsheet of 3000. I needed to buy the separate footprint which added another 200g to the weight. That said, I'm probably only going to be using it for 2-3 night trips when the weather's due to be fairly decent so it won't be a problem.

- It doesn't come with enough pegs (and the footprint bought separately didn't come with any), so there's additional cost/weight there.

All in all though for the cost (I paid £139 new plus £20 for the footprint), it's a great wee tent and will likely last for years. I'd say the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

I'd definitely recommend one if you're looking for something for solo trips (or cosy duo trips).
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By: Marclewis  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2001   Rating: 

Great tent, have owned it for many years. I'm not sure if it was called a Tadpole when I purchased it, but it's the same shape. The fly sheet has been improved with later models. In hot climates, the fly could be left off if you were sure it would not rain. Superb tent and would buy a new Tadpole again, but the one I have is so well made, it still has plenty of life left in it.
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By: Suetunstall  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2002   Rating: 

VERY cosy for two - all gear would need to be in the porch and the porch is quite limited until it's zipped up, which could make for complex manoeuvres. It's dead easy to put up - my favourite small tent of all times. And it's bomb-proof in the worst of howling gales.
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By: RCheesley  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2008   Rating: 

I spent quite some time researching 'lightweight' and 'ultralightweight' tents, 1 v 2 man tents and so forth, and although the Tadpole 23 came on the radar, it wasn't one of my top choices at that time.

As luck may have it, a brand new Tadpole 23 came on Preloved, easily within my budget, at a time when I was *really* needing a decent 2 man tent.

My first impressions were that the tent seemed a little confusing to set up, even after reading the instructions. The colour coding does help things considerably - the red poles go into the orange-red straps, and the silver poles go into the silver strap.

I haven't yet figured out how they reckon you can pitch this tent fly-only without a footprint, as the cross-over poles actually thread through sleeves on the inner as you can see in the second manufacturer image.

What I would say about this tent, is that once you get the hang of getting it up, it is VERY quick to pitch - you don't actually need to peg the tent down at all to get it pitched, in fact if you were REALLY trusting in light winds you would just need to peg out the vestibule/porch area with two pegs and your weight in the tent would hold it down (I don't suggest you try this though!). I tend to loosely peg out the groundsheet, put the poles through the loops and clipped on, then attach the fly and then loop the poles onto the relevant holes in the strap. What does take me a little time is the 'fine tuning' the pegs, strap tightness and guy lines, which is absolutely essential in high winds.

Initially I kept getting one side of the inner making contact with the outer (the inner is all mesh-type material, offering great ventilation) which I eventually figured out was down to not putting enough tension on the side peg loops.

I would strongly suggest, if weight allows, that you consider getting a footprint for this tent. If the ground is damp you will get some moisture through the groundsheet. Also you'll need a few extra tent pegs to use on the guy lines, as they don't provide enough.

You can also get Gear Loft #1 from TNF for ~£20 which gives you lots of overhead storage, ideal for hanging stuff.

Although this is a 2 person tent, and it would sleep 2 people quite cosy, you would need to have all your kit out in the porch area as there would not be any space at all. You could sleep both heads at the entrance end but TNF suggest top & tail sleeping arrangements.

Air circulation is a definite plus for this tent - it's awesome! It can get a wee bit chilly if the temperature drops below freezing and you're using it for one person, however a good sleeping bag+liner and thermals would sort that out no worries.

Customer Service is outstanding - I had a problem with one of my poles which seems to be a manufacturing fault, took them into Blacks/Millets who sent them back to TNF (in the Netherlands, so it will take at least 2-3 weeks before you hear back) and they replaced the pole for me no questions asked.

If you have any further questions feel free to poke me on the forums - more than willing to discuss anything about the tent :)
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Manufacturer's Description

A unique silhouette with a stellar reputation, this two-person tentís user-friendly features and design make it ideal for three-season exploration. Updated for the spring with improved ventilation and breathability, this tentís roomy front vestibule provides ample space to stash your gear, and interior pockets provide additional storage. Mesh canopy and large D-shaped door promote high and low air circulation, fostering excellent climate control in various conditions. Fully taped bathtub floor keep you dry despite rainy conditions.

* Light and user-friendly as ever, but with improved ventilation
* DAC Press-Fitô poles
* Lightweight, easy-to-use clip pitch system
* Comprehensive color-coded pitch system includes, poles, canopy and fly
* Fully taped bathtub floor and full-zip doors
# Convenient overhead pockets stow headlamps and fragile items
# Full mesh canopy for comfort and ventilation
# Abundant gear loops
# Fly-only pitching

... there may be more info on their website

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